Selected Article


Sémantique structurale (1966) cinquante ans après


PARRET, Herman


This article will be analysed under the title “Building an epistemology forsemiotics in 1966”A.J Greimas, in the effervescent atmosphere of the structuralism of the sixties (1966, annus mirabilis, “light year” of structuralism), is conscious that thealgebraic modelling of his “scientific semantics” must be directed by a rigorousmethod capable of metalinguistically reconstructing the signifying universe in itstotality, and must be founded by an epistemology which justifies the stratified immanentism of meaning and at the same time condemns the so-called “humanist”orientations in the sciences of language. Even if Greimas never explicitly indicatesthe intellectual and scientific context of his remarks, we can assume that Structural Semantics is duly inscribed in the network of philosophical and ideologicalpositions of this enthusiastic period. I propose to circumscribe the area of epistemological relevance of structural semantics and to perfect the contextualization ofthe structural paradigm of Greimas in three phases.First, I will reconstruct the Greimassian epistemology using a synthetic reading of the passages of Structural Semantics in which the positioning, often moresuggestive than explicit, of this epistemology reveals itself in its options, anxietiesand contradictions. Then, I will indicate how this epistemological doxa of Greimas is related to and distances itself from other structuralist opinions, not so muchin semio-linguistics (Propp, Brondal, Tesnière, Jakobson, Benveniste, Hjelmslev)but rather in philosophy (Merleau-Ponty) and in logic (Blanché) and in other human sciences (especially Barthes, also Lévi-Strauss). Finally, I will be interestedin the way in which the Greimassian epistemology was received and reformulated,immediately after the publication of Structural Semantics in 1966 (Ducrot), andwith some retreat (Foucault, Derrida, Ricoeur).